I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood – Review

About The Book

I saw it. He smothered her, pressing his hands on her face. The police don’t believe me, they say it’s impossible – but I know what I saw.

Xander Shute – once a wealthy banker, now living on the streets – shelters for the night in an empty Mayfair flat. When he hears the occupants returning home, he scrambles to hide. Trapped in his hiding place, he hears the couple argue, and he soon finds himself witnessing a vicious murder.

But who was the dead woman, who the police later tell him can’t have been there? And why is the man Xander saw her with evading justice? 

As Xander searches for answers, his memory of the crime comes under scrutiny, forcing him to confront his long-buried past and the stories he’s told about himself.

How much he is willing to risk to understand the brutal truth?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy a book with an unreliable narrator and Xander, the lead character in this novel, was more unreliable than most. Every time I thought I found an explanation for what happened to the woman I was proved wrong.

Xander is living on the streets. Thirty years earlier he had an extremely comfortable life but turned his back on all of it.  Choosing a life of solitude and hardship over friends and comfort. It is only as you get into the second half of the novel that you even begin to understand the reasons why. Life on the streets is definitely one of the strongest and more thought provoking aspects of this novel. I had no idea what methods people who were unfortunate to live this way used to keep themselves warm. All of the novel made me think about the many reasons some people have to live on the streets. 

He was an extremely complex character. He somehow came across as independent but also needy. Probably due to his childhood, the death of his brother and his devotion to the ex girlfriend he still loved. Even as more about his life was revealed I felt that there was always something kept hidden from the reader but also from himself. Almost like he was unwilling to remember.

The details of what he saw were slowly revealed but there were plenty of twists. A few of these I will in no doubt be thinking about over the next few days, questioning whether my understanding was correct. 

Imran Mahmoud will be participating in First Monday Crime, – June alongside Jo Spain, Dorothy Koomson and Patricia Marques. As usual you can watch this on their Facebook page on Monday 7th June at 7.30pm

Light Seekers by Femi Kayode – Review.

About The Book

When three young students are brutally murdered in a Nigerian university town, their killings – and their killers – are caught on social media. The world knows who murdered them; what no one knows is why.
As the legal trial begins, investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo is contacted by the father of one of the boys, desperate for some answers to his son’s murder. But Philip is an expert in crowd behaviour and violence, not a detective, and after travelling to the sleepy university town that bore witness to the killings, he soon feels dramatically out of his depth.

Will he finally be able to uncover the truth of what happened to the Okiri Three?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Philip is asked by his father to help an old friend get answers about his son’s death he does so, despite finding out things about his father’s past life that upsets him. He has had many years experience in his career in America but isn’t prepared for what he faces in the small university town in Nigeria. The uneasy feelings he has about the case increase when a conversation with a passenger on the flight deteriorates when he mentions why he is going. But he soon realises this is the least of his problems, he isn’t made welcome by anybody in Okriki and he can’t rely on who he is working for. He can’t even rely on Chika his ‘driver’

I liked getting to know Philip and Chika, especially trying to work out who Chika was and his background, but the other characters were just as fascinating,. Madame Landlady was the first who had an impact on me. How her attitude changed when she realised why they were there. But she wasn’t the only one. The hotel manager, the university and especially the police make it evident that the questions weren’t welcome. There was also the town. The way of life, the lack of infrastructure,  and the lack of support to the students made Philip realise that this was a world where he was totally out of his depth and which soon made him homesick for his family and life back in America.

I know little about Nigeria and this novel was a fantastic and slightly unsettling introduction. It was also very believable. A small community facing judgement for their actions from the rest of the world, a police department who didn’t want to admit they had made a mistake and an acrimonious religious divide that was easy to manipulate. It is a novel that I will be thinking about for some time.

Femi Kayode will be appearing on First Monday Crime alongside Nadine Matheson, Tim Glister and Abigail Dean. You can watch this via their Facebook page on Monday 1st March at 7.30pm. 

The Devil And The Dark Water by Stuart Turton – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

An impossible murder 
A remarkable detective duo 
A demon who may or may not exist

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is facing trial and execution for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent, while also on board are Sara Wessel, a noble woman with a secret, and her husband, the governor general of Batavia.

But no sooner is their ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A strange symbol appears on the sail. A dead leper stalks the decks. Livestock are slaughtered in the night. And then the passengers hear a terrible voice whispering to them in the darkness, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Third: an impossible murder. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes? 

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent and Sara can solve a mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I was looking forward to reading this book after thoroughly enjoying The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Even though it is completely different with the storyline and setting it was similar with its depth of character and plot. You couldn’t  read  either of these books quickly. It is probably the longest I’ve taken to read a book all year. 

I was lucky enough to read a sampler a few months ago, which ended on a sinister note so I knew that this was a novel that unsettle me. The fear of a ship under a threat from a devil was extremely convincing. All of the characters reacted in a different way and it didn’t take long for simmering  resentments to boil over into an increasingly dangerous situation.

It wasn’t just the threat from the devil that left me uneasy. The leper, who should have been dead, the attitudes to the women on board the ship and the animosity between the sailors and rest of the passengers  left me in no doubt about how volatile the situation was. And when the storm hit and lives became endangered this feeling increased. I had no idea who I could trust, who could have been possessed and no idea which way the storyline would end.

A lot felt believable. In particular the way in which women were regarded. The marriages they were forced into and the way in which they were controlled by the families. I wasn’t quite sure that they would have been as strong willed and forward thinking as they were portrayed but it did work well in the storyline. The superstitions were believable and I imagine that many sailors in modern day have similar views. 

I read this book digitally, I would love to read it again as a print copy. From what I have seen it is stunning, it would probably be a more enjoyable read and it has the added bonus of maps. 

I Will Miss You Tomorrow by Heine Bakkeid – translated by Anna Bruce – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The first in a new Norwegian crime series featuring disgraced ex-Chief Inspector Thorkild Aske, a damaged man with a complicated past

Fresh out of prison and a stint in a psychiatric hospital, disgraced ex-policeman Thorkild Aske only wants to lose himself in drugged dreams of his beloved Frei. Wild, unknowable Frei. The woman he loved. The woman he has lost forever.

Yet when Frei’s young cousin goes missing off the Norwegian coast and Thorkild is called in by the family to help find him, dead or alive, Thorkild cannot refuse. He owes them this. 

Tormented by his past, Thorkild soon finds himself deep in treacherous waters. He’s lost his reputation – will he now lose his life?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I’ve read a few Norwegian novels but I have never read anything like I Will Miss You Tomorrow. Aske was a character who like many before him has a private life that is a mess. But his private life has caused him to lose his career as an investigator in internal affairs and placed him in prison. I misunderstood most of his situation initially. When what happened to him was revealed I had a lot more sympathy, respect and liking for him.

It was a book that had me shivering whilst reading. The weather conditions, the freezing cold water, the attitudes and abuse he faced from former friends and colleagues. I learned more about certain medical conditions than I expected, drug dependency and Norwegian village life. I read the most graphic description of an autopsy I have ever read , where I could practically smell the body.

It is a crime novel with a supernatural slant. Not too much, just enough to unsettle me and question whether it was a hallucination or ‘reality’. Aske is one of the more intriguing characters I have met, I hope I don’t have to wait too long for book two.

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson – Review.

About The Book

It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t. 

But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.

Roux promises she will go away – if Amy plays by her rules. 

But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I rarely read samplers but when I first saw the first chapter of this book was available I had just finished another book so I decided to read it. And what a fantastic opening chapter it was. Full of threat, manipulation and a small taste of what the rest of the book could bring. It is one of the better opening chapters I have read this year.

The small book group is not prepared for the havoc that Roux can cause but Amy is tough and is not prepared to give in without a fight. Even though much of the book focuses on the battle of wills between Amy and Roux, she doesn’t stop there. All of them have secrets they need to protect.

One of the stronger parts of the novel, disregarding the storyline was the relationships that Amy had with her husband Davis, step daughter Maddy, friends Char and Tig and of course Roux. Her childhood was a tough one and she was determined not to have her family suffer the way she did. She had a tough choice, risk Davis and Maddy find out what happened to her or do as Roux demands and have others suffer. There are plenty of twists. a lot of guilt but there is also humour. Especially from Davis and Maddy. I liked the nickname ‘Monster’ that Maddy had for Amy, a sign that she was far from being one.

A brilliant storyline, great characters and the parts that described life under water were visually beautiful.